The Covid pandemic has had a significant impact on the ability of the NHS to provide some routine services. We recognise that patients are waiting longer than we would all like and it is not always possible to identify when treatment will take place. This document provides you with information on how you can support yourself while waiting to attend the hospital.
You don’t need to ring your GP, or the hospital caring for you for an update on waiting times because all the information is available on the My Planned Care website.
This guidance has been supported by clinicians who are responsible for your care to support and to help keep you well whilst waiting for your procedure.
Guidance for patients
You will be contacted by your trust for your first appointment, while you wait do please read the remainder of this leaflet for more information on what can be done to support yourself.
How you can support yourself while you wait for your procedure?
There are things you can do whilst you are waiting for your appointment or procedure to make you sure you are as healthy and strong as you can be. This will increase your chances of a better recovery. In the time leading up to your appointment, be sure to take good care of yourself by taking a few smart steps. This can help you avoid complications.
Take your medication
Whilst waiting for your hospital appointment continue to follow medical advice and continue to take any medications as prescribed.
Make a list of any medicines you are taking, including prescriptions, medicines you’ve bought yourself or any alternative treatments and take this along to any appointments you have.
You may be advised to stop or change you medication if you require any investigations or a procedure following your consultation with a specialist. Your consultant or pre-operative nurse will provide you with this information and advise you. Please do not stop or change any medications yourself.
We would encourage anyone waiting for surgery to lose some weight if necessary and to stop smoking. Both these measures are known to lower risk of complications following surgery.
Losing weight is not about getting it right – it’s about getting started. Making small, simple changes can really help you shed the pounds.
You can download a free NHS weight loss planning app to help you start healthier eating habits, be more active and start losing weight.
We would encourage anyone waiting for surgery to stop smoking.
Alcohol can have many effects on your body but importantly it can reduce your body’s ability to heal. Make sure you are drinking within the recommended limits or lower to improve your ability to heal after your procedure.
Prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or Pulmonary Embolism (PE) before procedure
There are natural ways and lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of developing blood clots, these include:
Make a point of moving every 30 to 60 minutes to ensure you keep your blood flowing
Simply walking for 30 minutes a day is a great way to keep your circulation moving
Maintain a healthy weight
Your doctor will assess your risk of developing a blood clot when you come into hospital and order a treatment plan to minimise your risk. This may include prescribed medications before or after procedure, or when you go home, to prevent blood clots.
Exercise regularly. Among other benefits, better fitness levels reduce complications when having any procedure. This allows you to leave hospital and return to your normal quality of life more quickly.
Keeping an active lifestyle is good for your health and if you are normally an active person it is important to keep that up before your procedure. People with low activity levels can improve their fitness levels within as little as 4 weeks. This gives you an opportunity to get fitter before your procedure and improve your chances of a better and quicker recovery.
Good mental health
It’s important during this time to take care of your mind as well as your body. You might be feeling down, worried or anxious while you wait for your surgery.
There are also Apps available to help support your health, mental health and wellbeing:
You can find tested and approved mental health apps here.
Other local support services can be found on the NHS website
Please watch this useful video from the Royal College of Anaesthetists which offers advice on preparing for a procedure.
What should I do if my health is deteriorating?
This information is designed to help you manage your symptoms and stay in the best possible health whilst you are awaiting your appointment. It is however possible that some of your symptoms may get worse while you are waiting.
There are some things to look out for that would indicate you should seek medical help:
- If your pain gets worse to the point that it is unmanageable with the pain relief suggested by the pharmacist or doctor and you are struggling to cope with it
If you experience any of these issues we would recommend getting in touch with your GP in the first instance. Whilst your GP does not have access to the hospital waiting list to get you seen sooner, if your condition is getting worse they can assess you, give advice and can contact the hospital on your behalf if necessary.
Urgent health advice
Life threatening emergencies
For something life threatening – severe bleeding, breathing difficulties or chest pains – please dial 999.
For urgent health advice about physical or mental health, when it’s not an emergency, please call 111 from any landline or mobile phone. The NHS 111 service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also visit www.nhs.uk
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.